Hollywood screen siren Hedy Lamarr acted throughout the 1940s and 50s in romantic scenes with the likes of Clark Gable and Jimmy Stewart but in her down time, the brunette beauty created and patented a scientific invention that paved the way for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology, according to a new documentary.
Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story produced by actress Susan Sarandon premiers Wednesday in London as part of the Jewish Film Festival.
The documentary touches on the 35 Hollywood films the sizzling brunette made including one she filmed at 17 where she portrayed the first female orgasm ever shown in a non-pornographic film but its more about her part in the development of a radio frequency meant to scramble military messages.
Any girl can be glamorous, she famously said of her screen career. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid.
Lamarr was a Jew who escaped pre-war Austria and her abusive husband, a munitions magnate who worked with the Nazis.
While building her Hollywood career as World War II raged, she began devoting her spare time to creating a weapons communications system for the US Navy.
Until now, Lamarrs part in the development of what she called frequency hopping, a way to avoid the German jamming of radio signals, has been an obscure part of Hollywood trivia.
The film tells Lamarrs story partly through unheard tapes of an interview she gave to Forbes magazine in 1990, 10 years before she died in Florida at the age of 86.
She is heard explaining her interest in technology: Inventions are easy for me to do. I suppose I just came from a different planet.
Lamarr had a room in her mansion dedicated for inventing and she, along with composer George Antheil, created a device that allowed frequency hopping which made the Allies radio harder to intercept.
She realized a constantly changing frequency is harder to jam, and the idea served for the torpedo guidance system she and Antheil eventually devised.
Lamarr paired her frequency hopping idea with Antheils experience with Ballet Meaniqueand came up with a scrambling system based on the 88 keys in a piano. On Aug. 11, 1942, they received a patent for it.
The idea wasnt implemented until after World War II, when the US Navy began using it in the 1960s.
Technology based on their idea is used today in wireless phones, GPS and by the military.
Lamarr and Antheil were eventually showered with scientific testimonials and in 2014, inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
While retired in Florida, she continued to work on inventions, including a pocket on the side of a Kleenex box for used tissues.